Theatre

Rehearsals have begun for Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s highly anticipated world premiere of The Minutes by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning ensemble member Tracy Letts. Under the direction of Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro, the cast features the return of six ensemble members Kevin Anderson (Mr. Breeding), Ian Barford (Mr. Carp), Francis Guinan (Mr. Oldfield), James Vincent Meredith (Mr. Blake), Sally Murphy (Ms. Matz) and William Petersen (Mayor Superba). Completing the cast of this 90-minute political comedy are Brittany Burch (Ms. Johnson), Cliff Chamberlain (Mr. Peel), Danny McCarthy (Mr. Hanratty), Penny Slusher (Ms. Innes) and Jeff Still (Mr. Assalone).

Tracy Letts, the writer of Linda Vista and August: Osage County, debuts a scathing new comedy about small-town politics and real-world power that exposes the ugliness behind some of our most closely-held American narratives while asking each of us what we would do to keep from becoming history’s losers.

Previews for The Minutes begin November 9; opening is November 19 and the show runs through December 31, 2017 in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St.  Single tickets to The Minutes ($20-$99, subject to change) are available through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Classic and Flex Memberships are still available and offer discounted prices and flexibility; more information at steppenwolf.org/memberships.

"The Minutes explores how we define history and the stories that we tell ourselves. Many of our ensemble members have returned to dig into Tracy's funny and surprising new work. Being in the Steppenwolf rehearsal room is one of my favorite places to be, and surrounded by the incredible cast and so many ensemble members—it's simply the best environment a director could ask for," shares Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro.

This play marks the fifth collaboration between Anna D. Shapiro and Tracy Letts and the seventh play by Letts to premiere at Steppenwolf. This season is also the 10th anniversary of the internationally acclaimed production of Steppenwolf’s August: Osage County by Letts and directed by Shapiro, which also featured ensemble members Ian Barford, Francis Guinan and Sally Murphy who all reunite for The Minutes.

WATCH trailer here >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3F7_pXVEpE

 

Tickets & Membership Info

Single tickets ($20-$99) are available through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Previews: $20 – $54 and Regular Run: $20 – $99. Prices subject to change.
Rush Tickets: half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.

Student Discounts: a limited number of $15 student tickets are available online. Limit 2 tickets per student; must present a valid student ID for each ticket; steppenwolf.org/students.
Group Tickets: all groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance throughout the season; steppenwolf.org/groups.

Classic Subscription Memberships offer 7-Play Packages securing dates and seats for the full Steppenwolf experience, as well as Create-Your-Own Packages with 5 or 6 plays. Perks include discount prices, easy and free exchanges and more.

Black Card Memberships are for audiences interested in extreme flexibility with six tickets for use any time for any production. Black Card ticket credits are valid for one year with the option to add additional tickets as needed. Perks include easy and free exchanges, access to seats before the general public, savings on single ticket prices and bar and restaurant discounts for pre- and post-show socializing.

Red Card memberships are available for theatergoers under 30.  To purchase a Card Membership, visit Audience Services at 1650 N Halsted St, call 312-335-1650 or visit steppenwolf.org.

Published in Upcoming Theatre

As soon as I saw the warm, rich lighting of a luxurious futuristic bedroom on the Space Ship Destiny lit and decorated by designers Heather Gilbert and Christopher Kriz and the set design by Arnel Sancianco, where the entire action of the play takes place, I thought this is going to be an interesting show. To the right of the set was a spaceship departure board with the names and photos of the passengers, along with their assigned room number, as they were headed to a planet three months away from Earth. The other ships had names like Fortune, Kismet, Prospect and Horizon suggesting that the people leaving earth are doing so willingly and must have enough money to do so. Smooch Medina’s spaceship flight calendar and wall projection also counts down the number of days the passengers have spent locked on this room together, which is a great tension builder as well. 

There are just three characters in the play. One a soldier who is suffering from PTSD from a previous mission in which he witnessed the killing of civilians that haunts him still in a variety of deep emotional ways. He has requested a private room because he cannot sleep well while struggling with his inner demons but somehow an attractive young woman passenger has been placed in the room with him, much to his disapproval. Ed Flynn portrays this sensitive, journal-writing soldier (previously referred to as “Grant”) who is also prone to violent mood changes and outbursts with great feeling and a sweaty intensity that is frightening at times. 

When you consider that he is locked into this “hotel room" for three full months due to a quarantine placed on certain sick members aboard the ship with a petite young female to whom he objects, it’s not difficult to imagine the strain that gradually surmounts. Janelle Villas does a wonderful job of showing the audience her fresh-faced bubbly enthusiasm while hiding a dark past that includes at least one rape, which has also left her in a state of PTSD. 


Co-directed by artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton and guest artist Jessica Thebus, the “Pilgrims” moves along quickly yet with subtle changes in the characters that seem very satisfying and real with a lot of emotional suspense and tension. We the audience wonder if these two characters will ever bond, or even reach their destination safely. We also ponder what will become of their edgy, ever-changing relationship once they are finally released from this artificial and close-quartered isolation into the general population of the new planet.  

The third character is a robot named Jasmine played with a great sense of humor and also an eerie, smiling menace by Brittany Burch. Jasmine has been programmed not only to answer all their questions and provide all their meals and cleaning services. She is also one of the older forms of “human-like robots” known for their ability to satisfy without any compunction - either member, male or female, with oral sex or intercourse if the human need arises.

The universality of two people meeting for the first time, learning about each other's baggage and foibles and being forced to overcome them in order to at least be friends if not lovers cannot be denied. This is a love story set in outer space plain and simple, even though it is suggested in the play that couples may have been placed together purposely to repopulate the new planet. 

I highly recommend this production for its unique retelling of a tale as old as time, when Fate meets Destiny and two very "human" human beings struggle to please each other while being true to their own individual dreams of the future but must in the end reveal the dark, undesirable places of their souls in order to overcome them and move into a deeper union free of mistakes or tragedies of the past.

Excellent performances and an imaginative script make Pilgrims a compelling and often humorous sci-fi love story that resonates. Pilgrims is being performed at Gift Theatre through July 30th. For more show information or to purchase tickets visit www.thegifttheatre.org.

Published in Theatre in Review

 

 

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